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The Rise of a Superpower


The tremendous industrial growth achieved under Stalin’s regime was the springboard for the expansion of Stalinism beyond the Soviet borders. After the Second World War, for the first time in history, Russia openly challenged the West’s historical hegemony to furnish models of socioeconomic development for the rest of the world. The scale of Soviet achievement in the heavy industrial sector was particularly staggering. In a short period of time an industrial capacity was built characteristic of more economically advanced countries. In terms of its branch structure and technological sophistication, the Soviet economy now stood at a level comparable with the industrialized countries of the capitalist West. The USSR was now second only to the United States in its gross industrial output.

Western leaders were seriously concerned about the USSR’s growing influence in the postwar world. The Soviet victory over a fascist capitalist state served to enhance the global appeal of Communist ideology. Following the postwar collapse of European overseas colonies, many of the newly independent countries in the third world adopted a socialist orientation. Soviet influence appeared to spread like a tidal wave across the entire globe: from Eastern Europe to China, from Vietnam to Cuba. Even within Western democracies themselves the popularity of Communist parties was far from negligible.

The extreme rivalry and distrust between the two antagonistic camps of states—one led by the USSR, the other by the United States—threatened repeatedly to engulf the world in a global conflagration. The world entered the era of the cold war that was to last for nearly a half century (1946–91). At its core was the intense military, economic, ideological, and political competition between the two socioeconomic models: the system of capitalism and the system of socialism.

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The Soviet Period


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

Models of Soviet Power

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